Breeders' Cup: Six under-the-radar internationals to watch

October 21st, 2021

The international brigade for Breeders’ Cup 2021 is still assembling, so discussion of the contenders at this stage is very much a moving target. Aside from the big names under consideration – from Love and Space Blues to reigning Breeders’ Cup champs Tarnawa, Audarya, Order of Australia, and Glass Slippers – a few not as well-known stateside are worth a look.

As I work on the in-depth Breeders’ Cup International Scouting Report for, here’s a horse to note for six of the Breeders’ Cup turf races. The usual caveats apply in advance, e.g., the post position draw and how they ship, but these in theory offer intriguing angles. If they’re not all front and center on the American radar yet, a couple could well be by Breeders’ Cup week.

Juvenile Turf Sprint – Hierarchy

While logicals like Twilight Jet, Armor, Go Bears Go, and Quick Suzy all featured in the division’s premier events, Hierarchy is more of a stab. The Hugo Palmer juvenile has raced over six furlongs so far, making the cutback to five an experiment, especially in a hotly contentious event. Yet judging by the way Hierarchy travels through his races, and appears to have a short burst, a turning five furlongs might bring out the best in him. Indeed, Hierarchy’s experience around a turn, including his maiden win at left-handed Wolverhampton, comes in handy here.

Watch how Hierarchy can’t quite last in the Mill Reef (G2) down the Newbury straightaway in his latest:

Juvenile Fillies Turf – Mise en Scene

If you were impressed by Wild Beauty in the “Win and You’re In” Natalma (G1), how about a filly who edged her when they were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Oct. 8 Fillies’ Mile (G1)? Exquisitely bred Mise en Scene has more upside than experience, but her acceleration makes her dangerous at Del Mar. She snatched the Prestige (G3) with a rattling late run around a sharp track at Goodwood, and her first loss in the Fillies’ Mile is better than it looks on paper. Young trainer James Ferguson expects her to reach the peak of her powers later, but she’s capable of factoring here.

Juvenile Turf – Modern Games

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has an embarrassment of riches in the two-year-old division, and his “Win and You’re In” winner Albahr is not even in the upper rank of his depth chart. Modern Games is likewise below stable stars Native Trail and Coroebus, but arguably better than Albahr, who has already introduced himself to North American fans at Woodbine.

Another son of Dubawi, Modern Games has a forward running style as showcased in the seven-furlong Somerville Tattersall (G3) at Newmarket. Off that effort, Modern Games is well-fancied in the Juvenile Turf market abroad, and he only counts as relatively under-the-radar, at the moment, on this side of the pond. 

Filly & Mare Turf – Teona

Although hardly an unknown quantity as the Prix Vermeille (G1) winner, Teona might get lost in the shuffle as defending champion Audarya, Japanese globetrotter Loves Only You, and the Ballydoyle possibles (Love or Mother Earth) all grab attention.

Trained by Roger Varian, whose North American forays are invariably well-considered, Teona is also in the mix for the Turf (G1). That’s a sensible option, since she easily beat older males, including two-time Canadian International (G1) hero Desert Encounter, in the August S. at Windsor two back. But the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) parameters fit too, since the keen traveler would likely get the right pace scenario – enough to help her settle while remaining in striking range.

Mile – Pearls Galore

Runner-up to Space Blues in the Prix de la Foret (G1) on heavy going, Pearls Galore strikes me as just the type to improve in an American setting. The Paddy Twomey trainee is handy, athletic, and proven going left-handed, notably when winning the Fairy Bridge (G3) at Tipperary and missing narrowly in the “Win and You’re In” Matron (G1) (where Mother Earth was a troubled third). Pearls Galore is admirably consistent across a range of turf conditions, but a quicker surface is what she craves. It wouldn’t be a shock to see her get a jump on the closers at Del Mar.

Turf – Sisfahan

Maybe this is the equivalent of a general fighting the last war, but German Derby (G1) hero Sisfahan ran a mighty race against Torquator Tasso in the Grosser Preis von Baden (G1). That form takes on a whole new dimension after Torquator Tasso came back to upset Tarnawa et al in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Although the Arc winner was dismissed at 71-1 in his first start outside of Germany, Torquator Tasso had smart form in the book. Thus even if his victory was aided by the heavy going, it wasn’t a crazy fluke.

As a result, Sisfahan warrants a close look in the Turf, where he’d appreciate it if Acclimate turns up to set a wild pace. The lack of pace hurt his cause last time out in the Preis von Europa (G1), yet Sisfahan still closed for third to Alpinista – the last horse to beat Torquator Tasso. This is the firmest ground he’ll encounter, and he needs to secure a decent position off the pace, but Sisfahan is eligible to come rolling into the picture late.

Breeders' Cup International Scouting Report

This is just a hint of the forthcoming International Scouting Report that will be available at during Breeders' Cup week. One volume covering both Friday and Saturday, the detailed analysis will include all contenders from around the globe – Europe, Japan, South America, and South Africa.